Saturday Salon


An open thread where, at your leisure, you can discuss anything you like, well, within reason and the Comments Policy. Include here news and views, plus any notable personal experiences from the week and the weekend.

For climate topics please use the most recent Climate clippings.

The gentleman in the image is Voltaire, who for a time graced the court of Frederick II of Prussia, known as Frederick the Great. King Fred loved to talk about the universe and everything at the end of a day’s work. He also used the salons of Berlin to get feedback in the development of public policy.

Fred would only talk in French; he regarded German as barbaric. Here we’ll use English.

The thread will be a stoush-free zone. The Comments Policy says:

The aim [of this site] is to provide a venue for people to contribute and to engage in a civil and respectful manner.

36 thoughts on “Saturday Salon”

  1. Winter has just arrived in inland Central Queensland – gone from shorts to thick slacks in a single afternoon.,

  2. By the way. Today, 3rd May, is Poland’s Constitution Day. If Poland can still be alive after everything that has been thrown against it – then there’s hope for Australia too.

  3. Poland has certainly been to hell and back. From memory it disappeared from the map from 1792 to 1918.

    The big event for me was the failure of my computer monitor. Something went wrong with the switch and it started turning itself off and on for no apparent reason. It was a 2005 vintage LCD and I now realise what a good monitor it was – lovely rich natural colours.

    The new one is LED. My son says it’s fine, but I have all this white light coming at me. It’s hard to read print and the colours are washed out.

    The computer guru I consulted said the video card might might need adjusting or upgrading. If I would just bring it in…

  4. Next week a book by Troy Bramston Rudd, Gillard and Beyond is to be published. This is from the blurb:

    Troy Bramston uses new in-depth interviews with Kevin Rudd and Bill Shorten, the advice of Gough Whitlam, Bob Hawke and Paul Keating, and insights from Julia Gillard’s inner circle to look at Labor in power and its pathway back to government. With previously unpublished documents and revealing observations, Rudd, Gillard and Beyond is the first book to provide a post-mortem and a roadmap for vital reform.

    Much of the focus seems to be on an email Gillard sent to Rudd 2 days before the putsch.

    This is from the Weekend Australian:

    “Bob Hawke and Paul Keating have given a blistering assessment of Labor in power under Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard and warned that retrograde policies, ineffective communication, divisive class warfare and a lack of conviction will keep the party out of office if not urgently addressed.

    The two former Labor prime ministers have urged the party to undertake radical reform to ­reduce the power of unions and factions, steer policy back to the centre ground and heed the ­lessons of the often chaotic and dys­functional Rudd-Gillard gov­­ern­ments. They argue that Labor must undertake structural reform to curtail union influence over policy, candidates and the party organisation.”

  5. Troy Bramston

    Troy Bramston is a columnist with The Australian newspaper and a contributor to Sky News.

    He has worked as a policy and political adviser in government, opposition and the private sector. He is a former principal speechwriter for Kevin Rudd and an adviser to the Rudd government.

    I may just take his judgments and opinions with a grain of salt.

  6. The Coalition would lose an election if it was held today.
    Well, it took 8 months.
    The moment they tried to do something other than Stop the Boats, they were cactus.
    And this when Labor is way down low in the polls.
    There’s no way Labor won’t gain traction between now and the next Federal election.
    And there are rumblings in the Cabinet from Turnbull and Julie Bishop about the wealth tax, of course! I wonder what else they’re bothering to complain about, if anything.
    Nothing, is my bet.
    Let the poor eat cake.

  7. And Julie Bishop is only complaining because the wealth tax will hurt

    our people

    So those of us who are aged pensioners reliant solely on the pension, the unemployed, single mothers, rebellious yoof not likely to vote Liberal, poor university students, recalcitrant creatives, single mothers, Aborigines, feminists, victims of domestic violence, refugees, Muslims, left-wing Christians and anybody else who is not

    our people

    should be very, very afraid.

  8. Abbott is coping a pasting from everyone over the ” Swan debt levy ”
    He looks like toast ATM.
    When the next GFC happens, and it will, Australia won’t come out as well as we did the last.

  9. So those of us who are aged pensioners reliant solely on the pension, the unemployed, single mothers, rebellious yoof not likely to vote Liberal, poor university students, recalcitrant creatives, single mothers, Aborigines, feminists, victims of domestic violence, refugees, Muslims, left-wing Christians and anybody else who is not

    A very broad brush your painting with there Paul, i’m sure some of them vote LNP.

  10. Jumpy,
    Right now, if the polls are right, those that did have changed their minds.
    Abbott is a thug. Stopping the Boats required the skills of a thug.

    Governing requires the skills of a statesman or woman at best, or at worst, a successful politician. Abbott don’t have ’em. 🙂

  11. Brian @4: One of the favourites of new CEOs is to undertake organizational change. It creates the impression of doing something without really doing anything.
    Shorten needs to be careful he doesn’t fall into the same trap.
    I am not impressed by the way Labor and the Greens are saying that they will try and block the levy/tax increase. I don’t think it is good for the country to be held to all the stupid promises that Abbott made before the election.
    Abbott should be applauded for proposing a tax that targets the better off members of our community.

  12. Oh Paul, do cheer up! Remember, I predicted back on L.P. that once the Bludget was out of the way, Tony Abbott would be ditched by his masters. “When the fox is caught, the hounds are cooked” and I can hear the cauldron being filled from here. Everything I’ve seen seems right on course so far. Just what would a Bishop or a Pyne government be like – and how long would it last? …. Next? ….

    Brian, I really do think too much emphasis has been placed on the kiddies’ playground squabbles and not enough on what I feel were the important factors:

    (I) The disappointment that followed the success of Kevin 07 and the feeling that anything had to be better than 11 years of the Howard hiatus and all the costly grovelling to a failed U.S. semi-president.
    (ii)The A.L.P. turning itself into an Anti-Australian Anti-Worker faction, looking as though the Young Liberals and the Tea Party had bought it out. Perception is important.
    (iii) Not knowing the cost of rent or of groceries but running messages, hither and yon, for every noisy group with 4-or-less members Australia-wide.
    (iv) The leading lights of the A.L.P. allowing themselves to be intimidated by one foreign infotainment magnate and being too cowardly to speak out, thereby failing to give any real alternative to the humbug and baloney of his servants – whenever they were censored, why the blazes didn’t they just bypass that foreign magnate and his servants?

    It’s no wonder so many former A.L.P. members said that bunch of fools didn’t speak for them and so voted against their own best interests.

    If the A.L.P. wants to survive – never mind get back into office – then it has to undergo difficult top-to-bottom reforms …. starting with the expulsion of all the ornaments and all the other wasters-of-oxygen, no matter what “brilliant(??)”CVs they may wave around. Underestimating the wisdom, knowledge, experience, talents and power of its former supporters doomed the Rudd and Gillard governments.

    IT’S TIME ….

  13. Although in that last poll all the LNP voters didn’t go ALPs way.
    They went the protest thing ( which rarely translates to actual elections ) to Greens and PUP.
    Abbott will backpedal on the ” Swan debt levy ” while shaving ( not cut, cut, cut ) ALPs policies like NDIS, Gonski, fat bureaucracy,NBN…..
    He’s a populist not a ideologue no matter how many time you tell yourself.

  14. jumpy, I think the real ideologue is Hockey with his ‘end of the age of entitlement’ and his moral crusade.

    Matthias Cormann is downright scary.

    With those two on the job I doubt Abbott has much real say, except for his ‘signature’ paid parental leave scheme.

  15. Brian @ 14, JD @ 11 am in full agreement.

    am very cheerful about the chaos into which the Libs have plunged themselves, and about their flailing desperation to get themselves out of it. Hoist with own petard, etc. If Abbott and co. have ever read Shakespeare, they should have read him more carefully. Whatever they do they’ve got themselves in a political mess they cannot get out of.
    And now, if Fairfax is to be believed, Hockey is being tainted by Obeid’s octopus and the NSW Liberal influence-peddling scandal.
    It would probably be inappropriate under the current circumstances to say it;s a great day for the Irish, but I’m sure you get my sentiments.

  16. On another topic entirely, about halfway through The Romanovs. Now up to 19C Russia, which I;m really looking forward to, as apart from Nicholas II and family, and what I’ve gleaned from Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky etc its an area where I only have ill-remembered schoolboy knowledge.

  17. From Roy Morgan:

    ALP (55%) has biggest lead over L-NP (45%) since October 2010 after Government proposes a ‘deficit levy’ and an increase in the pensionable age to 70

    The L-NP primary vote is 37.5% (down 1% to the lowest since the Election) now just ahead of the ALP 37% (up 3%).

    Among the minor parties Greens support is 12% (down 1%), support for the Palmer United Party (PUP) is 5.5% (up 0.5%) and support for Independents/Others is 8% (down 1.5%).

  18. Did anybody watch Q&A tonight?
    Apart from the delight of Anna Burke declaring herself a socialist, and implying the chap from IPA was a fascist, the yoof revolted, on the one hand quietly indicating their disgust with and contempt for the Abbott Government in their early questions and OTOH, staging a full-scale old-fashioned demo. (That went on for a bit long, probably because they didn’t realise how slow time passes on TV), but it was fun to see all the middle-class noses out of joint.
    Abbott, methinks, has set the country up in arms, quite unintentionally. He is clearly too thick to realise what he’s done.

  19. Paul @ 19
    my latest theory (inspired by things I’ve been reading on various blogs) is that Abbott is acting. He doesn’t have any actual policies, he’s just doing what he is being told to do and paid to do by his patrons/bosses (in brief, the 1%) through the IPA.

    That’s why he’s so hollow, I think. He is just an actor and his performance isn’t going very well with the audience (us, the public). The play has been written by someone else, but he is required to do a bit of ad-libbing and stand-up, and he’s not much good, now it’s a bit more complicated than verbally attacking and sneering at a woman.

    Presumably they will have to get someone else, but who?

  20. Val,
    Writing about his PPL scheme today Anne Summers suggests he could be stupid or obdurate. (In the Age if you wan;t to read it. I haven’t worked out how to link from elsewhere to comments on Windows 8 yet.)

    I was intrigued by John Roskam using the phrase ‘we’ last night on Q&A when referring to Liberal Party policy, and I’m not the only person to have picked up on that. It was noted in something I read this morning. So there might be something in your theory.

  21. As to who? Hockey is now too damaged. And he scares people.
    Malcolm is too much his own man.
    Thank God Matthias Corman in in the Senate. One thing we don’t need is a Cory Bernardo with brains.
    They haven’t got a lot of alternatives, but if these poll figures keep up, they’ll be sure to be thinking about rolling Abbott sooner than later

  22. Val, Abbott’s controller is no doubt Peta Credlin, his chief of staff. She is said to be displeased with several senior ministers, so they’ll need to watch out!

  23. But who controls Peta? Is her husband still the president or whatever of the Liberal Party? Either way, I don’t think they are the controllers (though she does look to have more brains than Abbott)

  24. Paul I agree with you about Malcolm Turnbull. I thought that also – he wouldn’t be suitable because he seems to have some independence.

  25. Val: Oh, you naughty, naughty girl! How dare you infer that our great-‘n’-glorious Leader and his loyalest and nicest followers have no policies. Of course they have a policy, a mighty, all-encompassing policy, “It’s all the fault of the previous Labor government”. What more do we need? A brilliant policy for every situation and every voter on every day. So concise, so inspiring – and all summed up in only nine words. Now go and wash your hands with soap-and-water and behave yourself. ((just kidding, Val 🙂 ))

    Paul: Had a horrible thought – wonder if the demonstration on Q & A will enhance the reputation of Mr. Pyne and help smoothe his path into The Lodge?

  26. My family used to joke that I always swung to the right when I moved to operational management roles in the mining industry. (Anyone else who had to deal with the Pilbara unions in the eighties might understand why.) I sometimes wonder how bad I would have been if I had moved further up the management tree.
    It is hardly surprising that when a commission of audit is stacked with management types they come out with something that shows little sympathy to the working class.

  27. Newspoll was TPP 53/47 to Labor compared with 49/51 a month ago. Actually in the series last month’s looks like a rogue poll.

    Anyway the LNP vote is down 5 points. Three went to the Greens first preference and two to Other.

    Shorten approval is mildly negative with 24% undecided. People have mostly decided about Abbott and he went from a net -7 to -21.

    I gather the biggest swing was in older folks, not a surprise.

  28. GB,
    Re Christopher Pyne.
    You can’t be serious. Pyne has one of those unfortunate personalities that makes everybody except his family and closest friends feel like one feels when chalk screeches on a blackboard every time you see him.
    One would feel that way about him if he was Labor, Green or PUP.
    His value to the Coalition is that he can be put in a portfolio where he has to make decisions that everyone hates.
    If the Coalition lasts, I tip him for Treasurer one day.

    Re Turnbull. I almost felt sorry for him this morning watching the BBC trash his reputation as a crusader for human rights because of Abbott’s refugee policy. But then I remembered he chose to join the Liberal Party. One thing is for sure- the leadership baton is still in his back pocket. Too many more slip ups and Abbott is gone.

  29. Val: Yes, I think Abbott will soon have to find another gig (b.t.w., is he a financial member or not of the Arts & Media Alliance?).

    Paul: True enough – but is Mr. Pyne well endowed with the 21st Century key selection criterion for Prime Minister : Obedience?

  30. The media love when voters get obsessed with personalities rather than policies.
    I assume politicians are conflicted on on that issue.

  31. Brian,
    Have got The Iron Kingdom but I’m not going to start reading it until I’ve finished The Romanovs, which I hope to do today. Have glanced at it -one cannot resist with a new book – and it looks like its going to be fabulous.

  32. Paul, I look forward to seeing what you think of The Iron Kingdom. Norman Davies has high praise for it except for one objection. Davies reckons Prussia began with the Prusai, the mob in NE Poland who were subdued by the Teutonic Knights. Clark reckons Prussia really began with the colonisation of Brandenburg.

    I’m with Clark. Frederick The Great, for example, never saw the province of ‘Prussia’ as an essential part of the country Prussia, as it were. Prussia became a motley collection of provinces. From memory, there were five different sets of law and five supreme courts in the early 19th century.

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